MTN Under-19 World Cup, January 1998
Preview: South Africa
6 January 1998
as appeared in The Sowetan
CENTURION - Victor Mpitsang is tall for his age, and with a decided mission in his young life, to play cricket one day for South Africa.
At Centurion Park on Wednesday he laid waste to the England top-order, taking two wickets in four balls in the third under-19 limited-overs international. It was an impressive rather than devastating spell of fast bowling.
Yet Mpitsang, only 17 and now at Grey College, in Blomfontein, and a member of the South African side in the MTN World Youth Cup, is a genuine product of United Cricket Board's development programme, just as is Makhaya Ntini, now in Australia with Hansie Cronje's side.
The difference is that both players were spotted at an early age by coaches and it was there influence which helped them earn bursaries at places of edducation their hard-working parents could mot afford.
Mpitsang was discovered by Free State coach Corrie van Zyl, himself a former fast bowler, only three years ago. Naturally Allan Donald is his hero; and he has aspirations of being as good as Doanld.
Now he is part if the elite group of South African cricketers who are to play for their county at under-19 level in the second Youth World Cup (under-19) tournament which opens at the Wanderers on Sunday where South Africa meet India in a symbolic gesture of goodwill.
Sadly for Albert Nkomo, from Cape Town, a groin injury has ruled him out of the tournament, but his replacement, Donavan Henry, is a young Cape Town lad who comes from the Roger Telemachus school of bowling technique.
Both Mpitsang and Henry are part of the five "non-white" group selected purely on merit for the South African side, a move which had Kris Mackerdhuj, the UCB president, exclaiming with some excitement that "cricket is achieving the goals set when the UCB was first formed - a side representative of all groups".
Mpitsand and Henry apart, Robin Petersen is a left-arm orthodox spinner from the Eastern Cape, Goolam Bodi, a wrist spinner with the sort of magic potential that launched Paul Adams, is from Lenasia and Wasfie Samsodin, is an all-rounder who has displayed his ability during the series against England.
As Vincent Barnes, one of the two coaches with the under-19 side, there is much to be excited about but, he warned, don't push youngesters too soon and too fast. It could have a negative affect on their growth and development as players and damage their potential.
Yet for some, the prospects of Ntni and Mpitsang opening the bowling for South Africa in a Test may have to wait until the next millenium, but is a possibility that is worth thinking about.
South Africa have put together a more than useful side for an international tournament that has drawn 16 countries as disparate as Scotland and Denmark and Paupa New Guinea and Kenya. From the last Youth World Cup, held in Australia 10 years ago, emerged such world class players as Brian Lara, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mike Atherton.
It will be interesting to see what talent of similar class emerges over the next three weeks.
Contributed by: The Management (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 19:08